How Do Leading Methods Mislead? Measuring Public Opinions in Authoritarian Contexts

Speaker(s)
Ammar Maleki
Date
Fri May 27th 2022, 10:00 - 11:00am
Event Sponsor
Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies
Event is open to
Everyone
Experience Type
Virtual

Zoom webinar

Telephone and face-to-face interviews are an established method of public opinion surveying in free societies. The high demand for understanding public opinions in influential authoritarian countries stimulates institutions and researchers to utilize such established sampling methods without considering their context-dependent limitations and misleading results. Given pervasive fears of state retribution, the challenge in societies under authoritarian regimes is measuring people’s genuine opinions about sensitive topics. The accelerated rates of internet penetration and social-media popularity, even in authoritarian contexts, create a window of opportunity for innovating the measuring of public opinions in authoritarian countries. After examining why conventional surveying methods mislead in authoritarian contexts, this lecture presents an innovative usage of large-scale online surveys to measure Iranians’ unmeasurable attitudes. A comparison of the online survey with the 2020 face-to-face survey conducted by the reputable World Values Survey (WVS) in Iran suggests that leading surveying methods may result in invalid findings about authoritarian states while anonymous online surveys can reveal a more realistic picture of what people think and demand.

Ammar Maleki is assistant professor of comparative politics at Tilburg University (Netherlands), and the founder and the director of GAMAAN (the Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran); an independent, non-profit research institute that studies the attitudes of Iranians towards various social and political subjects.

If you need a disability-related accommodation for this event, please contact us at iranianstudies@stanford.edu. Requests should be made by May 18, 2022.